21 January 2013

Liberia: Walk Out At Episcopal Church's Local Election

The St. Augustine Episcopal Church Men staged a walk-out of the church's local election on Sunday, January 20, 2013 in protest to the manner in which they said the election was conducted by the Priest-in-Charge Rev. Nyema Harmon.

The Church, located on Bardnesville Road, held an election of Vestry members (Church administrators) that would steer the affairs of the St. Augustine Episcopal Church for a year.

At the general meeting yesterday in the edifice of the Church, uproar ensued between the men and Rev. Harmon on grounds that the Priest was not following the proper procedure in keeping with the canon (Constitution) of the Episcopal Church of Liberia.

It started when Rev. Harmon accused two members identified as George Tawallah and Wilson Garpeh of being delinquent in the payment of their dues to the Church for which they were not qualified to participate in the election of the Vestry. The two men earlier declared that they had no intention of contesting.

Rev. Harmon disclosed that the Finance office of the Church failed to submit financial report to his office which would have indicated the financial standings of all members especially those who intended to contest in the election.

The Priest told the congregation during the general meeting that he obtained a copy of the financial report without the knowledge of the committee responsible to make such report available.

However, the men frowned that the Priest should not have taken a financial document surreptiously because it undermines the Church's financial office.

According to the Episcopal Church's Canon, during a general membership meeting, a financial report must be made to the congregation, priest report and election of the Church administrators (Vestry) but no financial report was made; instead, Rev. Harmon who admitted smuggling a financial document without the finance Committee's knowledge was seen presenting the names of those he claimed have not been paying their dues.

As Rev. Harmon read his report, the men of the Church walked out, accusing him of taking side in the election. The St. Augustine Episcopal Church men accused the priest of engaging in tribal sentiment in the Church.

Amidst confusion and murmuring by the men, the election was held in which eight persons were elected to administer the affairs of the Church for a year. The elected officials are expected to be inducted soon.

With the walk out protest by the men from the Church, it is not known whether they will cooperate with the new leadership.

Meanwhile, the Episcopal Church of Liberia has cancelled its 83rd Diocesan Convention slated for February 6, 2013 in Harper, Maryland County.

The Church, in a communication signed by Bishop Jonathan B.B. Hart said, the convention will not be held due to the lack of money.

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